The Pacific Ring of Fire manifests itself in numerous places on the rim of the Pacific Ocean – but nowhere more dramatically than in Russia’s Far East. Along one of the world’s most active plate boundaries, the Pacific plate subducts under the North American plate and the resulting volcanic and geothermal activity has built a unique and amazing landscape. Upwelling from the deep trenches formed by this action and currents around the many islands creates perfect conditions for seabirds and cetaceans. Consequently the area is one of the richest in the world, both in terms of the number of species, which can be seen, and their sheer abundance. For many birders, the undoubted highlight is the auks and during our voyage it is possible to see up to fourteen species including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots.



Day 1Petropavlovsk-KamchatskiyTransfer and embark on the Spirit of Enderby
Day 2At SeaKeep an eye out for sea birds as you head towards the Commander Islands
Days 3-4Commander IslandsExplore this group of islands with rich natural and cultural history
Day 5Zhupanova River, KamchatkaEnjoy zodiac cruises looking out for the local sea birds and stunning surrounds
Day 6Bukta Russkaya, KamchatkaBird Life, chance of brown bears, orcas and sea lions
Day 7Second Kuril Strait, Atlasova & Onekotan IslandsPass through one of the highest densities of sea otters in the world.
Day 8Ekarma & Toporkovy IslandsSee an abundance of bird life and the magnificent Matua Island Volcano
Day 9Simushir & Yankicha IslandsEnter the flooded caldera at the north of Simushir Island looking for rare birds
Day 10Chirpoy & Urup IslandsDependent on weather zodiac cruise or land on the islands with dramatic scenery and breeding seabirds
Day 11Iturup Island Visit the small settlement of Kurilsk and enjoy thermal hot pools in the volcanic highlands
Day 12Kunashir Island The largest island of the Kuril Chain, explore the surrounding woodland with hikes and birding
Day 13Sakhalin IslandFarewell your fellow travellers and expedition team as you disembark the Spirit of Enderby

Spirit of Enderby

Ship Offering This Itinerary

Spirit of Enderby
Spirit of Enderby

The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for expedition travel. She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2013 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is very good and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.

The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you into zodiacs, or ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and experienced Russian Captain and crew.

Day 1 Petropavlovsk- Kamchatskiy

Spirit of Enderby

You will be transferred to the Spirit of Enderby for embarkation as you depart for the Commander Islands. You are more than welcome on the bridge as you sail from what some people consider the best natural harbour in the world. There is also some good birding to keep an eye out for as you leave the shoreline behind.

Day 2 At Sea


Spend the day at sea as you cruise towards the Commander Islands. Enjoy several lectures and briefings as you prepare for the days ahead. It is also a good time to be on deck as the birding is good with Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel and Red-legged Kittiwake amongst the likely sightings.

Days 3-4 Commander Islands

Resized-Commander Islands ©Heritage Expeditions Russia's Ring of Fire

There are two main islands in the Commander group, Bering and Medny, and during your two days you will be able to explore several sites combining the best of the natural and cultural history. There is an excellent chance of finding Rock Sandpiper, Mongolian Plover, Pechora Pipit and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch, as well as the endemic subspecies of Arctic Fox. Zodiac cruising can be extremely rewarding here with several species of auklets as well as the Red-legged Kittiwake. The area is also extremely rich in marine mammals. Potential species include Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke and Baird’s Beaked-Whales, as well as Orcas, Steller Sea Lions, Northern Fur Seals and Pacific Sea Otters. Include a visit to the small settlement of Nikolskoye and the local museum.

Day 5 Zhupanova River, Kamchatka

resized©Heritage Expeditions MKK_Steller's sea eagle and people_KAM_20140916_4442

Spend several hours in the Zodiacs cruising on the scenic Zhupanova River where you should get great looks at Steller’s Sea Eagles as the birds often nest in the trees adjacent to the river. Other highlights could include Far Eastern Curlew, Long-toed Stint, Kamchatka Gull and Aleutian Tern. There is also a major salmon fishery on the river which you can visit.

Day 6 Bukta Russkaya, Kamchatka

resized©Heritage_MKelly Steller's Sea Lion and Zodiac (4)

In this deep fiord on the Kamchatka Peninsula look for the endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet as well as Long-billed Murrelet. Plan a short excursion at the head of the fiord where there is a chance of spotting brown bears. At the entrance to the fiord where you can Zodiac cruise, there are almost always Orcas and Steller Sea Lions.

Day 7 Second Kuril Strait, Atlasova & Onekotan Islands

resized©AFergus Russia's Ring of Fire 4 June 2014 Atlasova and Onekatan

Very early in the morning you will pass through the Second Kuril Strait which has one of the highest densities of Sea Otters in the Kuril Islands. Your landing on Atlasova Island is great for birders and non birders alike. There are the remains of a Gulag to explore and numerous species to see. This evening on Onekotan Island stretch your legs through an amazing field of wild flowers as you walk to Black Lake.

Day 8 Ekarma & Toporkovy Islands

resized©AFergus Russia's Ring of Fire Ekarma and Matua

During an early morning enjoy a Zodiac cruise at Ekarma Island where you will be rewarded with various alcids, with close looks at Tufted Puffin and Whiskered Auklet. This afternoon at Toporkovy Island in the shadow of the active Matua Island volcano expect to find Harlequin Ducks, Red-faced Cormorants, Tufted Puffins and Brunnich’s Guillemots. Ashore you could encounter Grey-tailed Tattler, Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler and Black-faced Bunting.

Day 9 Simushir & Yankicha Islands

©Heritage Expeditions-Whiskered Auklet

Enter a flooded caldera at the northern end of Simushir Island where a once top secret Soviet submarine base lies abandoned. In the surrounding area look for Siberian Rubythroat, Eurasian Nutcracker, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Grey Bunting. Our visit to Yankicha Island is likely to be one of the highlights of the voyage as the number of alcids which breed here is incredible, with spectacular concentrations of Crested and Whiskered Auklets.

Day 10 Chirpoy & Urup Islands

Heritage Expedition - Auklets

Depending on the weather in the morning you will either Zodiac cruise or land on Chirpoy Island where there are some dramatic volcanic landscapes and headlands covered in breeding seabirds. This afternoon’s landing on Urup Island is a chance to stretch your legs on an extended walk, beachcomb and look for Sea Otters or birds in the forest behind the beach.

Day 11 Iturup Island

Heritage Expeditions Resized©KOvsyanikova-1397-20160606

Land at the small settlement of Kurilsk from where local buses/trucks will take you into the volcanic highlands to thermal hot pools where you can enjoy a soak or go birding. Possible species include Kamchatka Leaf-warbler, Japanese Robin, Siberian Accentor, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Bush-warbler.

Day 12 Kunashir Island

heritage expeditions©Meghan Kelly-3364

Kunashir is the largest island in the Kuril chain. The plan is to land in the Kurilsky Reserve and explore the extensive area of woodland, where there are some good treks and impressive birding. This afternoon while you are at sea there is a chance for birding and an opportunity to recap and pack.

Day 13 Sakhalin Island

Heritage Resized©Katya Ovsyanikova-IMG_8743-20160531

Farewell your new friends onboard the Spirit of Enderby and you arrive at the Port of Korskov on Sakhalin Island. You will be transferred to either a central hotel or the airport in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

To book this cruise contact us on 1300 784 794 or email: contact@arctictravelcentre.com.au

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.